Understanding Cultural Differences Between the US and UK

I’ve started to become extremely aware of the little that people know about life in the United States. It is common for me, and many others, to assume people of different nationalities know everything about us. It may come as a surprise, but we are actually not the center of attention in this world.

Hardly ever do I pick out an American accent in London. I get asked the origin of my accent daily; it never gets old for people to tell me they love my accent. In groups, people say they hear mine first.

Most people have heard of Kentucky, but many of them quickly mention KFC. I typically chuckle. To some people’s surprise, I actually do like KFC. But then I try to give them some quick facts about Kentucky, like how much bigger London is than Kentucky as a city versus a state. I tell them that we do not have public transportation except for a few buses, and they’re certainly not red double deckers at every quarter of a mile.

CAPAStudyAbroad_London_Summer2015_From_Sawyer_Coffey_-_city_scape

I educate them on something the Brits all understand: alcohol. I point out the Kentucky bourbon behind the counter and surprise them at the fact there are more bourbon barrels than people, that it’s only called bourbon if it’s from Kentucky, and that the industry is our biggest tourism attraction to Kentucky. They would less understand the attraction to horse racing in Kentucky. I’ve even had many say they want to tour and visit!

While Kentucky and the United States have some silly traditions, the UK has some to top it. Anyone heard of the cheese rolling competition in Gloucestershire? There are a lot of traditions to learn of in the United Kingdom. It’s harder to learn them because of the diverse cultures here.

In our International Marketing class, we are studying the differences in companies and culture between the US and the UK. Companies and businesses are run with very different strategies and models. We also learn aboutthe shortcomings of international businesses and how the surrounding culture does or does not define the business.

I am also experiencing that through my internship at Brixton Village. The village is made up of market traders of over 50 different nationalities. How do they change their cultures and beliefs to perform well in a different country? The beauty, and the challenge is, they don’t.

CAPAStudyAbroad_London_Summer2015_From_Sawyer_Coffey_-_street_art

Working to launch the WeAreBrixtonVillage.london website has brought challenges because all of the cultures are so diverse. You can see the diversity by just looking at their shops. When I try to sell them on the idea of the website, I find that some of them are completely supportive, some you have to keep pressing, and some will never understand the value of having their information on a website. All of the traders have a unique story, and me, a stranger, is asking for it. The most difficult part to overcome is telling them it will cost some money.

Lastly, a huge factor of a market setting is selling a community. What will it take for everyone to firmly and readily call themselves a community? Hopefully I get to find out soon.

In my internship, I am working hands-on as well as behind a computer. I am meeting diverse people and forming relationships with those around me. Since this is only half of my internship, I get a full opportunity to expand my work, meet great people, and learn.

Bye bye for now!!

Blog post #5: http://capaworld.capa.org/understanding-cultural-differences-between-the-us-and-uk

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